Skip to main content Skip to navigation

The Role of Social Norms in Building a Low Carbon Society

Thursday 09 July 2009
Zeeman (Mathematics) Building, Room B1.01, Warwick University

* registration for this workshop is now open *

The Workshop

Philosophers, economists, and legal theorists have recently developed an interest in the analysis of social norms and their influence on human behaviour, drawing on earlier research from social psychologists, but also contributing new analytical approaches. Social norms are of particular importance to motivate environmentally sensible behaviour such as energy saving, recycling, and environmentally aware consumer choices. This is of great relevance for the transition processes needed to develop a low carbon society, as these transitions require fundamental changes in human behaviour. Not all of these changes can be enforced by regulation or triggered by economic incentives. Changing social norms is an important and often overlooked policy tool. Social norms can be effective where formal sanctioning is difficult or undesirable. For instance, while taxes and regulations can crowd out intrinsic motivations to act in a socially desirable way, social norms and their enforcement mechanisms (e.g. social approval, reputation, self-image) make active use of these motivations. Therefore, to achieve the behavioural changes required to address climate change, understanding how social norms are shaped, enforced, changed, and how they influence human behaviour is crucial. One problem in the current scientific debate is the lack of exchange between game-theoretical, economic, philosophical, and experimental work with regard to social norms. The proposed workshop links these perspectives to advance the debate.

Convened by: Tony Cole, Dan Priel, Kai Spiekermann
The Warwick Low Carbon Society Initiative with the Centre for Ethics, Law, and Public Affairs
Confirmed Speakers
Kjell Arne Brekke (Oslo)
Luc Bovens (LSE)
Tom Tyler (NYU)
Kai Spiekermann (Warwick)
Simon Hailwood (Liverpool)


from 9:30 Coffee
10:00 Welcome
10:15 Tom Tyler, "Legitimacy and Criminal Justice: The Benefits of Self-Regulation"
11:00 Comment by Simon Hailwood (Liverpool)
11:45 Kjell Arne Brekke, "Conditionality of Cooperation and the impact on environmental norms"
13:15 Lunch (light lunch will be provided)
14:00 Luc Bovens, "The Tragedy of the Commons and Doubly Symmetric Games"
14:45 Comment by Kai Spiekermann
15:30 Coffee Break
16:00 Kai Spiekermann, "Nudges and Norms for the Common Good"
17:30 Concluding debate and closing remarks
19:00 Workshop dinner (by invitation)


Please also see our partner workshop:

Global Emissions Trading: Ethics, Policy, and Politics on July 8th